What is Discrimination?

Alexis W.

Discrimination refers to any instance of treating someone in a less favorable manner on the basis of that person's characteristics. The legal definition of discrimination, however, is narrower than the dictionary definition of discrimination. Under the law, only certain behaviors are considered discrimination and only certain classes or types of discrimination are illegal.

In the U.S, Title VII enforces equal hiring policies for women and men.
In the U.S, Title VII enforces equal hiring policies for women and men.

Most free societies believe that all men are created equal. In the United States, for example, these words are found in the Constitution of the United States of America. This means that no one should be looked down upon, treated worse or deprived of opportunities on the basis of his characteristics.

Gender discrimination is accepted in some countries.
Gender discrimination is accepted in some countries.

Although the Constitution stipulates this, various forms of discriminatory behavior have persisted in the United States, as well as in other countries. Racism, for example, is a type of behavior in which someone is treated differently, looked down upon or stereotyped on the basis of his race. Sexism and ageism are other examples of such discriminatory behavior.

Discrimination includes treating someone differently because of their race.
Discrimination includes treating someone differently because of their race.

The law provides certain specific protections against certain types of discriminatory behavior that are most common. For example, in the United State, Fair Housing Laws mandate that no one person be deprived of housing for unfair reasons. Specifically, various laws stipulate that homes must be accessible to handicapped individuals and that a person cannot be denied the opportunity to rent a home because he has children, or because of his race, color, religion, national origin or gender.

President Kennedy was responsible for sending the Civil Rights Act to Congress in 1963.
President Kennedy was responsible for sending the Civil Rights Act to Congress in 1963.

Discriminatory behavior is also prohibited in the work place in the United States and in many other countries. Within the US, for example, specific people are protected from being treated unfairly. Those who are provided with protection are considered protected classes.

Discrimination is sometimes age-based.
Discrimination is sometimes age-based.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides the broadest anti-discrimination principles within the United States. For example, Title VII mandates that no person be discriminated against in the hiring, firing or terms and conditions of employment on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin or color. This prohibits not only discriminatory behavior in hiring, but also ensures employers do not treat one employee worse than the other when it comes to benefits, work environment or the chance for promotion.

Other anti-discriminatory legislation exists in the US as well. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from treating people badly or denying them employment due to a disability. The Age Discrimination in Employment act mandates that employees over the age of 40 not be treated any differently than those who are younger. Each of these pieces of legislation aims to stop unfair treatment on the basis of uncontrollable characteristics to achieve a more level playing field for all.

The Americans with Disabilities act prevents employers from discriminating against people with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities act prevents employers from discriminating against people with disabilities.

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Discussion Comments


I was the only employee who was not directly related to my employer. The boss's twin sister had no experience in health care and was hired, trained by me, and then made my supervisor. She would talk down to me in front of patients and my employer. She would confront me about supposed complaints from patients but would not give any details as to what I had done wrong. I felt like I had to walk on eggshells every day.

I approached my employer about the issues with her sister and she told me I would just have to work it out with her. I had to cover other positions while her family members were permitted to run personal errands during business hours. There is more, but I am wondering if it sounds as though I have a case for unemployment.


It would be better if you added different information on gender discrimination like interpersonal, institutional, intentional and unintentional by describing different examples from developed, developing and under-developed countries.


I work for a company and was demoted; not because of things I did, but because of what people under me did. I was demoted for not controlling my staff. The rule was this: if any staff broke any of the rules, I was to report to my supervisor. I did this and instead of writing the staff member up, I got written up because the staff was questioned without my being there and then reversed the blame to me. The company always believed staff over me.

Another thing, I am a Christian. I was constantly being made fun of by staff with remarks about my Christianity. I think I have a good case, but don't know how to go about filing the claim.


I am being evicted from my apartment by a landlord who will not listen to a word I say or from witnesses that I did nothing wrong to deserve this. He believes the neighbors across the hall who are liars, drunks and his wife even flashed her boobs in broad daylight in front of two children.

I am on housing and I'm afraid I'll get kicked off of it or the new place I'm trying to rent will not rent to me because of whatever he tells them. Any suggestions to help me? I also am a single mother with a six year old daughter.


I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy. I had a recent EEG test showing that I was fallen asleep several times throughout the day. Even though I was on provigil I was getting about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. This was affecting me at work. After 12 years of employment, I was placed on notice due to not remembering what I had done I was falling asleep and didn't know it. then they stopped paying me. Short term stated that I didn't have a disability that would stop me from performing my job?


Empanadas- I agree with you. Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal according to the age discrimination act of 2006.

It prohibits an employer from forcing an employee at age 70 to retire. In addition, employers can not discriminate with regards to benefits for employee’s age 40 to 70.

When an age discrimination case is filed against the employer, it is usually the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the EEOC that usually investigates the claim.


I am surprised that no one has anything to say to this! While there are things to protect against discrimination, like Equal Opportunity Employer laws, it still happens every day! If you feel like you've been discriminated against, you should contact management within that company immediately. If that doesn't work, go one higher. Discrimination comes in all shapes and forms and there is no particular pattern to it, it just happens.

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